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Soccer: Spartans play competitive first halves

Somerset goalkeeper Brennan Sheridan is shown as he gets set to block a shot by New Richmond's Tyler Blattner during a recent game. Dave Newman / RiverTown Multimedia

While depth remains an issue for the Somerset boys soccer team, the Spartans were competitive in the first half of all their games last week.

And the Spartans were facing some quality competition in these games, including contests against Superior and Rice Lake in a tournament on Rice Lake's artificial turf last week.

Saturday's action opened with the Spartans dropping a 2-1 decision against Superior. Superior had defeated Rice Lake 1-0, so this was a top quality effort from the Spartans. Somerset's goal came on a 40-yard shot from senior Elliot Olin, off an assist from Aaron Shartin-Folkert.

"Elliot just crushed it. It went right under the crossbar," said Somerset coach Bill Roll.

Somerset then had to face Rice Lake in the later game. This was the Spartans' third game in two days. The Spartans put up another strong first half, trailing 2-0 at halftime. In the second half the margin quickly blew up to 5-0 against the fatigued Spartans. So the Somerset coaches put the reserves into the game to get them game experience, with the final score expanding to 8-0.

On Friday, the Spartans hosted Unity, a first-year varsity program.

"For a first-year WIAA program, they're pretty solid," Roll said.

This was another game where the Spartans were competitive for a half. The first half ended 1-1, with senior James Clute getting the Somerset goal off an assist from Shartin-Folkert.

Unity scored early in the second half. The Spartan coaches were contemplating moving more of their experienced players to defense, but before they could, Unity scored again. Unity was able to add two late goals to make the final score 5-1.

The best chance for a win for the Spartans came last Monday in a home game against Osceola. The score was tied 1-1 deep into the second half. That's when Osceola got the deciding goal in a 2-1 victory for the Chieftains.

Clute scored the Spartans' goal, showing his speed as he burst past the Osceola defense to track down a through ball.

"We played well the whole game," Roll said. "We had a good surge at the end and we had some good scoring chances."

The Spartans' season doesn't end easily either. In their final three games, they draw three of the top teams from the MBC. It starts with a home game against Amery this Thursday. The Spartans play at Barron next Tuesday before finishing the regular season two days later when they host Baldwin-Woodville.

Dave Newman
Dave Newman has been the sports editor at the New Richmond News since 1988. He has covered the action in the Middle Border Conference, Dunn-St. Croix Conference and Big Rivers Conference for nearly 30 years.
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